Sunday, February 17, 2008

Book Review – Traveling Music by Neil Peart

When presented with a week and a half off from family responsibilities and with no other plans in the hopper, Neil Peart decides to take a road trip – by car this time – and packs up a slew of CDs he plans on spinning while on the road.

At some point in this journey, the forever journaling drummer and traveler decides he could probably squeeze a book out of the trip, mainly documenting his travels and reflecting on the music he cranks along the way.
In this way, we get to be passengers as Neil drives from his Los Angeles home to southwest Texas and back, the end goal being a visit to Big Bend National Park, where he had quickly passed through some years earlier on motorcycle and always wanted to return.

We hear Neil reflect on his love of everything from Sinatra to Madonna. We hear about his appreciation of Coldplay, Jeff Buckley, Porcupine Tree, Dido and Radiohead. And 98 degrees. Yes you read that right. We also hear about his disdain for Rolling Stone magazine.

And as side stories, we hear how he became friends with Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon, who was trying to appease his record company by writing a follow up to Everything You Want, and how Neil helped him try and figure out if ought to do that or just follow his heart.

Alternating with chapters about his journey and all of these reflections, Neil writes about his childhood and his early love of the drums, moving into how he tried to make it in music in London, moved back to Canada disgruntled, and then hooked up with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson to begin his career in Rush. We get insight into why he is so guarded with his private life, and we hear nuggets such as, if he could wipe all of his work with Rush off the face of the earth pre-1980 (Permanent Waves), he would.

For any Rush fan, just these parts of the book are worth the read. It’s basically an autobiography of his years in Rush.

For an intensely private person, Neil slowly is peeling back the layers of his story in his books.

This book is a great continuation from Ghost Story: Travels on the Healing Road, which chronicled his healing after losing his wife and daughter. I reviewed that book here.

Now we see a re-married and happy Neil reflecting back on his formative years, as he also carves out a new journey. There is another book, called Roadshow, that Neil put out after this one. It’s on my reading list!


Amy the Mom said...

Nice blog! I'm a mom about your age who is a diehard rockfan, though it's an admittedly smaller part of my life than it was in my teens and early 20's.

This book sounds great-I'll have to add it to my nighstand pile.

Chris said...

I've never read any of Neil's non-lyric work, as I've always been afraid I would come away convinced he is the pretentious ass he sometimes seems to be. At some point I will probably pick one of these books up, though. Nice review!